HOUSTON, TX: Three Global South Archbishops Address AMIA Split at Annual Winter Conference
By David W. Virtue in Houston
January 11, 2012
More than 700 missionary-minded Anglicans belonging to the Anglican Mission in the Americas crammed the ballroom of the Hilton hotel in downtown Houston last night to begin their 12th annual four-day winter conference against a backdrop of a split in the evangelical Anglican denomination.
Three retired archbishops, two from Southeast Asia and one from Rwanda, spoke openly of the split and sought to heal the wounds in sermons that recently saw AMIA chairman and Bishop Charles Murphy resign as Vicar General of the Rwanda House of Bishops following an unresolved conflict over a proposed missionary society status for the AMIA that pitted him against newly elected Rwandan Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje and his House of Bishops.
Former Southeast Archbishop Yong Ping Chung said many are heartbroken, hurt, angry, filled with dismay and even confused by the many falsehoods and half truth accusations and blaming, as well misunderstandings that had arisen intentionally or unintentionally on the Internet.
"As a result, the AMIA was sucked into a whirlpool of a complicated situation which left many of us bewildered."
The archbishop urged his listeners to focus on mission, evangelism and preaching the gospel. He took a swipe at the Episcopal Church when he said, "You have uprooted the old ways of doing church; you have torn down many temples where you used to worship the false gods of our modern world. You have destroyed many egoistic, self-proclaimed and self-seeking so called leaders who led you to the slaughterhouse. You have overthrown the devil from taking the heavenly throne. In the last 10-12 years you have built and planted almost 250 new church plants where the true gospel is preached and where the Lord Jesus Christ is honored and lifted high."
The Primate said that while this Winter Conference is "different", it is like previous "Spirit-filled" winter conferences. Citing the apostle Paul, he said our struggles are not against flesh and blood but against the principalities and powers...against the spiritual forces of evil.
"I sense that this is only the first round of attacks. Today in the midst of the storm God declares that He has appointed you over nations and kingdoms. You will be prophets to the nations. The 12-years of training are practices to reach the 130 million unreached Americans. God is calling you to be a part in a global mission and by definition it must include local mission and global mission. The AMIA has been endowed with a large and rich material and spiritual resources."
The evangelical archbishop said that God had called him to come out of retirement and to stand in the gap at a time like this. "God is calling me to stand with the other two founding archbishops to provide the necessary apostolic covering for you. Mission is in God's hear6t. God's mission has been always in my heart. The AMIA was first called by God to reach out to the lost souls in America. Now God is asking us to enlarge out tent for global missions. Our mission has not changed. It is not yet finished. Let us focus on God and his agenda. He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ."
In his address former Rwandan Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini said this was an unusual winter conference. "It has been raining, we have lived darkness, the Lord saw the danger and now we are to celebrate the full moon because the way is clear and the danger is passed."
He said there are many problems, but [the AMIA] is surviving. "They never lost the vision and AMIA has remained focused in going on to The Promised Land. Citing Moses, the African leader said the AMIA has seen the things that focus God's face. It is God's vision but he has given it to you. You have troubles but Rwanda is not the Promised Land nor Canterbury nor Rome. The Promised Land begins at the cross. The Promised Land is in heaven. The vision is clear, to keep going and keep moving to the Promised Land."
Former Southeast Asia Archbishop Moses Tay delivered what he said was a word from the Lord. "2 Cor. 5:17...If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation...the new has come. This speaks directly into the reality of our situation. Three things form the heart of God - missions. Scripture (none should perish) and the call to unity. Unity cannot be above truth. We are called to be in Christ. But some people talk about unity while gunning you down and making you feel guilty. We have a new commandment to love one another and to love our enemies. It is our heart beating with the heart of God. We need to choose how we need to see and relate to one another. We have a new mission, the choice is to let the past go and move on with the Lord. Global mission is on the heart of God."
The mood of the opening celebration service seem summed up in the words of one conference theme song, "Everyone needs compassion, everyone needs forgiveness, the kindness of a savior let mercy fall on me."
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